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Generation Startup: Lean Practice

We spoke to Aaron Penwill, Managing Director & Head of Performance at business improvement specialists Lean Practice. They help teams improve business performance by removing what gets in the way, and set up the systems to make that performance stick.

Can you tell us about you, your brand and why you started it?

I initially started so I could get to do the type of work I love doing a selfish act! I get to help teams and individuals build performance they thought they weren’t capable of who had too much friction in their way, which is really rewarding. It’s now become a crusade to improve productivity, to increase profit margins so businesses can get to do more good for People and Our Planet. I think we are doing our bit by being a force for good.

What did you do before you launched the business?

I did a similar thing within large organisations. Helping organisations improve performance by scaling transformations.

How did you get your first sales?

We are all in sales. Sales is Leadership. Leadership is mobilising people to act. Its all about influence.

What’s your biggest achievement been to date with the brand?

For last 3 years being able to donate 1% of my revenue to Surfers Against Sewage helping them protect our oceans and rivers in the UK.

What have you found most challenging whilst launching and growing?

Clarity of direction. Sticking to beliefs and being open to pivot when needed.

What are your plans for the next 12 months after COVID-19?

We’ve stuck with our brand core however have refreshed our approach with a stronger focus on People and Planet. We are building the foundation to be a B-Corp which will ensure are business will be stakeholder focused and will remain that way forever, very important as we start to grow. We’ve also minimised what we are offering as solutions. We are now have two core products. One which builds team performance via 4 Day sprints and another that improves personal productivity through a 3-week intense coaching programme. Both products are virtual offerings to reduce our environmental impact and to offer our clients greater scheduling flexibility. We also still do face to face however it will reduce.

What advice do you have for startups?

Find out what you stand for, why you’re different and what value you can offer. Don’t waiver from that. Stick to your guns. If you’re getting laughed at or told it won’t work, then you’ve got something different worth fighting for.

What’s the best investment you’ve ever made?

Daily 20 minutes of reflection. It doesn’t cost much just your time but you get so much from it.

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given or heard?

Great questions.

Tough to answer. I’m of the belief I haven’t given duff advice. The worse advice out there is “To be professional”, what does that mean? How people interpret it is that they become less authentic and try to fit the mould. You see it in individuals, teams and business. I believe if you want to get ahead is be more you, be more different, don’t be most people.

Who or what inspires you the most?

For me Muhammed Ali, as a sporting hero, his dedication and his character has always inspired me. As a business its got to be Patagonia and all the good they are doing for our planet, they have showcased what a great business looks like and have shared it openly.

You can find out more about Lean Practice on all of the usual social channels and at their website.

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